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‘Difficult to predict’ when Carroll County fire director will be hired, commissioner says

The Board of County Commissioners’ decision to freeze hiring until the new fiscal year did not include Carroll County’s first fire and emergency medical services director, but hiring for that position has been delayed nonetheless amid the coronavirus crisis.

The director will help lead the county’s transition to a combination paid and volunteer fire service.

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During budget talks April 14, the commissioners unanimously voted to freeze hiring beginning May 1, with the exception of essential positions, until after the new fiscal year begins July 1. Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, clarified at the board’s April 16 meeting that the new director was considered essential and not part of that freeze, saying, "This does not apply to our hiring freeze, and we’ll get to it as soon as possible.”

Three candidates remain for the position, according to Wantz. A second interview by the management committee is needed before the final names are submitted to the commissioners for an additional interview, Wantz said Friday.

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“As for the date of hire, that is difficult to predict,” Wantz wrote in an email. “While we are certainly becoming more comfortable with all things virtual, the hiring of this incredibly important position, in my mind, will be very challenging virtually.”

His best prediction is that the person will be hired in June.

“Skeleton crews” operating at the county office building and many facilities being closed are factors in the director’s hiring, he said. Once hired, the director will focus on “interacting with everyone and visiting and performing meet and greet with all parties,” Wantz wrote.

“This department needs to be built from the ground up and initial communication with everyone is essential and difficult under current [COVID-19] conditions,” he wrote. “Perfect scenario for me is when we gradually begin to open, we can hire appropriately, based on the challenges listed above.”

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